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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease by Ashley Nagel

By at December 6, 2011 | 6:07 am | Print

COPD is known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which in simpler terms, refers to a group of lung diseases that blocks the airflow in the lungs when you exhale, making it more difficult to breathe.

Symptoms of COPD include wheezing, shortness of breath, chronic cough and tightness in the chest. Unfortunately most symptoms do not occur until major damage has been done to the lungs and the symptoms usually get worse over time.

Two of the main diseases that make up COPD, are emphysema and Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis.

Emphysema is a disease that damages the alveoli in your lungs by destroying the inner wall in the clusters of alveoli causing there to be less surface area. Surface area is greatly needed in the lungs because it allows for exchange between carbon dioxide and oxygen so you can breathe. On top of damaging the alveoli in the lungs, emphysema also weakens the alveoli walls which reduce the elasticity of the lung, causing it to collapse upon exhalation trapping air in the alveoli.

Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis is a disease that narrows the airways to your lungs and causes inflammation. It also increases mucus production causing more blockages to the narrowed airways.

COPD is typically caused by long term exposure to air pollutants, tobacco smoke, dust and chemical fumes. The biggest of these four problems being tobacco smoke. The longer you smoke, the higher the risk of COPD. COPD also has side effects that come along with the horrible symptoms it already causes. Those side effects are high blood pressure, depression, heart problems, and respiratory infections (frequent colds, flu, or pneumonia).

Unfortunately there is no cure for COPD. The only thing you can do is control the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications by not smoking and using medications such as inhaled steroids, antibiotics, or bronchodilator (inhaler). You can also try oxygen therapy or a pulmonary rehabilitation program. And if none of that works, there’s also surgery available for people with severe COPD like a lung transplant or lung volume reduction surgery.

 

Source: www.mayoclinic.com

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